Monday, January 29, 2024

Ammo warning - updated


My favorite ammo vendor, SGAmmo of Oklahoma, has just published their latest newsletter.  They warn:

News from Shotshow 2024: I just got home from 4 days in Las Vegas at the shotshow, where I met with the people from the factories we work with, factory sales people, factory directors and owners, importers, etc. The big point of discussion seemed to be shortness in supply for nitrocellulose, which is the raw material used to make gunpowder and other propellants and explosives. Based on these conversations, the issue seems to be based on 2 factors, decreased availability in the supply chain and increased demand for the manufacturing of military ordnance.

Getting into the details and a little more, a huge percentage of the nitrocellulose used to make gunpowder historically came from China and Russia, however according to my conversations with industry partners, the Chinese manufacturers who historically were the biggest suppliers at over 30% of the market share are no longer willing to ship raw nitrocellulose to the USA or NATO member countries in attempt to reduce the USA & NATO's ability to supply Ukrainian forces with artillery shells, and of course Russia who historically was the 2nd biggest supplier is out of the supply chain as well. This decrease in supply in raw material has gunpowder manufacturers in the USA raising prices dramatically and cutting off many of the smaller ammo manufacturers.

The 2nd part of this issue is the demand for military ordnance, like 155mm artillery shells that use huge quantities gunpowder propellants, and the gunpowder manufacturers switching production to this type of gunpowder with what supply of nitrocellulose they do get. The first reason is that they always put the US government's needs before those of the commercial market, and the second reason is that it is simply much more profitable to manufacturer military ordnance than it is small caliber ammunition, so they get a much more profitable price manufacturing powder for artillery shells.

In conclusion, while most of  the factories seem to have gunpowder stockpiled today, this issue is expected to catch up to them no later than the summer of 2024 and possibly within a few months, and when it does it will mean the factories will be capable of producing much less small caliber ammunition to sell to the US commercial market. If demand for ammo is low to moderate, you may not see a big change, but if demand were to go way up as it does periodically, the factories will not be able to ramp up capacity to fill that demand. In my opinion, a lot could go wrong in the commercial ammo supply chain in 2024 and it would be wise to stock up sooner than later as 2024 price increases have just started to set in on just a handful of select items so far, and availability is still good which has held prices down temporarily.

This makes sense to me.  For example, a single 155mm. artillery round can consume up to 25 pounds of propellant, whereas that same weight of propellant could make many thousands of rounds of rifle or handgun ammunition.  Military demand has been off the charts, thanks to sending tens of thousands of artillery and tank ammunition to Ukraine and Israel, and having to replenish our own depleted stocks (not to mention those of several NATO countries).

It's worth thinking about the availability of ammunition if a shooting war should erupt that involves the USA.  I know that during World War II, civilian ammunition supplies were almost completely curtailed.  Manufacturers simply didn't produce most civilian cartridges and calibers, and everything that was produced went straight to the military.  Civilian hunters and shooters who loaded their own ammunition and cast their own bullets were able to continue, but many others hung up their firearms for the duration - they had no choice.  Back then the internal security situation was a lot more stable than it is these days, so that didn't pose too much of a problem.  Now?  I'd be very, very skittish at the thought that I might not be able to defend my family and home.

(There's also the factor that an anti-gun government might use the opportunity to simply ban all civilian sales of ammo and firearms, and even turn to confiscation to get its hands on the millions of rounds in private hands.  One can't predict that with any certainty, but I'd regard it as not unlikely.)

Friends, if you use firearms in common military calibers (e.g. 5.56x45mm NATO, 7.62x51mm NATO, 9mm Parabellum, etc.) I'd very strongly suggest that you stockpile enough ammo in those cartridges to see you through a few years of shooting.  I also encourage you to stockpile enough .22LR ammo to use for training purposes (either using conversion kits to fit your existing firearms, or dedicated .22LR weapons), because that'll be a whole lot cheaper (and better for your supplies) than using full-patch ammo.  However many rounds you store for each of your "service" weapons, I think three to four times as many rounds of .22LR would be a useful accompaniment - and that's for each weapon.  YMMV, of course.

Each of us will have to make hard choices as to what we consider essential.  I've made mine.  I can only suggest that you make your own, quickly, and take steps to implement them while ammo supplies are still relatively freely available, at relatively low cost.  That could change almost overnight.  It has, in the past.  Also . . . it's an election year.  Who knows what might come down the pike aimed at gun owners?



Anonymous said...

Another option to using 22lr for practice, is to purchase an airsoft gun that is a replica of your current firearm. There is a growing number of realistic replicas that even produce a certain amount of recoil with each shot fired.

MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Peter,

I have been concerned for a bit, between the Ukraine and Israel, the supply is being used and the U.S. Military has let our own larder get pretty low, and if a kerfluffle kicks off with a near peer adversary, it will totally drain the stockpile and our manufacture of ammunition has been pilloried be "environmental interest" which effect manufacturing. but the local eco-wacko doesn't care since they are Marxist by nature and if they help the commie Chinese, it is a benefit, not a bug. You are correct, I can see an anti-gun administration use the "emergency to freeze sale to the civilian market making our assorted "seed dispensers worthless. so yes, I will be stocking up on more ammo, I have a gut feeling we will be needing it because a modern sporting rifle with no ammo makes a crappy whiffle bat.

boron said...

You wonder why our supply chain from our second biggest nitrocellulose supplier has been disrupted, essentially severed: could it be that the pResident has forbidden all trade with (and I mean ALL) Russia so the US and allies can "starve" them economically.
But Russia is, instead, flowering under our restrictions, so FJB, like any good Progressive is just doing moar harder - and Vladimir Vladimirovich is just laughing moar harder.

Anonymous said...

after the AWB was passed, I told friends back then to start stocking up. with ammo, all you have is a fancy rock or club. one thing I do wish I had done was buy it by the damn skid load !
I use old paint buckets to store long term. I clean up the inside and leave the outside dirty. sealed in plastic.
ammo keeps a long time.

lynn said...

Well crap. Who knew that one of the major components of our ammo, civilian and military both, came mostly from Russia and China ?

Dan said...

In a rational world western countries would find a source of such material that doesn't involve relying on our enemies. Sadly we no longer have a rational government or rational businesses. There are other sources for nitrocellulose. They simply need to be developed and in some cases restored to previous levels of productivity.

tsquared said...

I am flush with powder as I restocked to a 7 year supply when it became available a few years back and I have kept up with my demand. What never came back was Winchester and CCI primers. All that would sporadically show up would be primers from eastern European and countries south of the border. I have has as much as a 18% failure rate with some of these primers.

Anonymous said...

I was at SHOT Show this year also.
I talked with major powder and primer manufacturers as well to see what I could do for my customers.
They also mentioned limited powder and primer supplies. For example, Remington told me that they are currently selling NO primers to the civilian market - and don't expect to be for at least another year. Currently all the primers they can make are going into their or their partners ammunition. They expect to make 1.8 billion primers this year. They also said that primers are the touchiest part of ammo manufacturing; some current plants (not theirs) are offline due to accidents and new plants are taking more time than expected to come on line.
I did see lots of companies new to the US market advertising both loaded ammo and primers; I'm sure some are quality and some aren't - the challenge is figuring out which are which!

Anonymous said...

Big bore high pressure air rifles are looking better every day. And there not a fire arm. Slower yes but much easier to feed.

Anonymous said...

Today I found an old receipt used as a bookmark.
From November 2014, it showed I had purchased three boxes of Federal 12 gauge multi-purpose load 100 ct valuepack for $7.49 each.

Anonymous said...

Ordered another 1k green tips from Mr. Gabbard 2 weeks ago, just before the storm. STILL don't have it. UPS clains its a westher delay, but... the package routes through Memphis, so, could be anything. I DID pay the extra 5 bucks in insurance.

Anonymous said...

CCI primers are sporadically available, for 2 to 3 times "normal" (pre-pandemic) prices.
Be fast to order, they disappear quickly.

For off-shore primers, I've used S&B with good results.

Anonymous said...

As bad as the shortage of gunpowder / ammo will be, the ban on Russian oil, potassium and medical grade helium will be far more devastating to humans. The anti-oil retards have no clue that pesticides & fertilizer are derived from oil and that Russia provides 80-90% of those critical ingredients. I agree to stockpile some extra ammo, but more importantly, prepare for food shortages that are created by our glorious progressive socialist Demoncraps.

BGnad said...

Thank you for this Peter!
It did prompt me to further enhance my larder, as much as I could at the moment. And yes, I did get it from SGA.